As lockdown forced folks to stay home more often, more folks may have looked to pick up gaming as a hobby.

While this isn’t a bad thing, the fact that cybercriminals turned to gaming in a bid to launch attacks. This is according to data from Kaspersky.

The cybersecurity firm reports that in April, it blocked attempts to direct its users to malicious websites as it usually does. However, compared to January of this year, the attacks in April increased by 54 percent and the lure used for these potential attacks was gaming.

A month prior, SteamDB reported that Steam had reached a new concurrent online user record of 20 million users. This rise in the popularity of gaming prompted Kaspersky to do some research into the threat landscape of games during lockdown.

As mentioned, attacks using gaming as a lure increased by 54 percent. Among the lures were links that promised free games, extensions, cheats and even updates.

The links, as you might have guessed, actually directed to malware, ransomware, phishing attempts and crypto-miners.

The games used by cybercriminals were Minecraft, Counter Strike: Global Offensive and The Witcher 3.

Kaspersky also found that according to its Anti-Phishing System, redirects to phishing pages that contained the word “Steam” increased by 40 percent in April.

“Many of these video game-related attacks are not particularly sophisticated; there is a large user component to their success. The past few months have shown that users are highly susceptible to falling for phishing attacks or clicking on malicious links when it comes to games – whether they’re looking to find pirated versions or eager for a cheat that will help them win,” explained Kaspersky security expert Maria Namestnikova.

As many folks may be using their gaming machines for work as well now that they’re working from home, an extra degree of caution is advised.

Kaspersky advises the follow precautions be taken:

  • Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication (2FA) where possible to protect your video-gaming accounts
  • Be wary of any cheats and pirated copies of video-games, since it’s one of the favourite lures used by cybercriminals
  • Use a reliable security solution that identifies malicious downloads, blocks phishing sites, and prevents redirects to malicious pages
  • During the game, don’t switch off your security solution, but turn on gaming mode, which consumes less resources

Stay safe folks, the dangers aren’t just in the game.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]
Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.